After nine years, eight managers and millions upon millions of pounds invested, Chelsea can finally say that they are European Champions for the first time in their history and indeed a first for Roman Abramovich’s ownership. Having sacked Andre Villas-Boas, the man whom the Russian paid a fee of close to £15m to have him release from his contract at Porto, ex-Blue, Roberto Di Matteo led the club to the double of Champions League and FA Cup. However, a sixth place finish in the Premier League represented the lowest Chelsea have finished in the Abramovich era and their lowest league finish since the 2001-02 season.
Villas-Boas endured many problems during his short time in charge and came under fire for his chopping and changing of the famous old guard amid rumours of a rift between the Portuguese and the senior players. Di Matteo was the interim coach during Chelsea’s success last season, but since then has been awarded a two year deal as manager. The success in Europe has whetted the Russian owner’s appetite for even more success, if the lavish spending for this summer is anything to go by. The highly rated Brazil Oscar and Ligue 1’s player of the season for the last two successive seasons, Eden Hazard, along with his brother Thorgan and Marco Marin. At an outlay of close to £70m, tells us that the Blues mean business – in the form of these young, exciting, attacking players.
Chelsea do still appear to be short at the back and on strikers. Just three remain following the departures of Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou – Fernando Torres; golden boot winner at Euro 2012 has scored just seven goals in 46 appearances, the indifferent Daniel Sturridge and Romelu Lukaku who has yet to really get a proper break in the first team in the Premier League. 10 defeats in the league last season and poor away form – just six wins on the road, compared to double that at Stamford Bridge is also something that will need to be addressed. Chelsea didn’t really have any trouble scoring last season in the league (65) but could do with tightening up at the back having conceded 46 goals.
Di Matteo, will however, be expected to build on the success of last season and mount a more serious title-challenge, while on the other hand, ensuring that the Blues are again a threat in Europe. There will be an extra demand for Chelsea, as Champions League and FA Cup winners meaning that the Blues season will kick off on Sunday afternoon against Manchester City in the Community Shield. On August 31st, they will play Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, while in December there will be the long trip to Japan to take part in the FIFA Club World Cup.
Opening five fixtures: Wigan (A), Reading (H), Newcastle (H), QPR (A) and Stoke (H)